Assistant Coach Tai Dillard Joins Women's Basketball Coaching Staff
May 6, 2014
HOUSTON--- Former Ole Miss assistant coach Tai Dillard has been brought on as the newest addition to the University of Houston women's basketball coaching staff, while Ravon Justice will return for her fifth season on the bench, as the Cougars' assistant coach and recruiting coordinator, head coach Ronald Hughey announced on Tuesday.
Dillard comes to Houston with seven years of Division I basketball coaching experience under her belt, after spending the 2013-14 season as an assistant coach at Ole Miss, mainly working with Rebels' backcourt. She helped develop senior point guard Valencia McFarland into one of the top players in school history, as she led Ole Miss with 6.3 assists per game, while also serving as the team's leading scorer, pouring in an average of 17.0 points per contest. McFarland's 1,655 career points rank sixth on the program's all-time list.
"I'm extremely excited to have Tai Dillard become a part of our coaching staff," said Hughey. "She's a fantastic hands on coach and has a great way of connecting with student-athletes on and off the court. She played at the University of Texas and spent time coaching at UTSA, so she knows the type of talent the state of Texas has to offer."
"I'm also excited to have Ravon Justice as a part of this staff," added Hughey. "Ravon and I have been through the recruiting wars together and I knew from the beginning I wanted to keep as a part of my staff. She knows the state of Texas inside and out. She's a pit bull out there. She knows what she wants in a basketball player and she goes out and gets it. I'm just happy she's finally on my side."
Prior to her stint at Ole Miss, Dillard spent some time on the west coast, serving as an assistant coach under legendry head coach Michael Cooper during the 2012-13 campaign. While in Southern California, she helped coach guards Brianna Barrett and Ariya Crook to All Pac-12 postseason honors.
Before arriving at USC, the San Antonio, Texas native spent five seasons on the sideline at University of Texas-San Antonio. While at UTSA, Dillard's primary duties included working with the guards, recruiting, and organizing summer camps.
Dillard put her Texas ties to work right from the beginning, helping to construct back-to-back NCAA Tournament teams in 2008 and 2009, as the Roadrunners won 20-plus games and captured the Southland Conference Tournament Championship in both years. UTSA also claimed the Southland regular season title in 2009.
While at UTSA, 11 of Dillard's players earn All-Southland Conference awards. Her work with Monica Gibbs helped mold Gibbs into UTSA's all-time assists and rebounding leader, a three-time all-conference performer, the Southland Player of the Year and the league's Defensive Player of the Year in 2009.
Before hitting the collegiate coaching circuit, Dillard spent some time at Sam Houston High, where she served as the head cross country coach and assistant basketball and track and field coach.
Dillard's talents also extend to the playing court, where she was a four-year letterwinner at the University of Texas, playing under Hall of Fame head coach Jody Conradt.
While at Texas (1999-2003), Dillard helped lead the Longhorns to four consecutive NCAA Tournament berths, including a trip to the Final Four during her senior year. Dillard started 34 games that season and helped UT obtain an overall record of 29-6. She also was a two-time Big-12 All-Academic honoree.
As a pro, Dillard played for the WNBA's San Antonio Silver Stars from 2003-05, appearing in 57 games. She briefly played in the National Women's Basketball League for the Houston Stealth in 2004 and gained more experience overseas while playing in the Israeli Premier Basketball League for the Macabbi Tel Kabir from 2004-05.
Dillard, a native of San Antonio, Texas, received her bachelor's degree in kinesiology in 2003.
Justice returns for her fifth season on the Houston bench for the 2014-15 season, continuing to serve as the team's recruiting coordinator.
During Justice's first season as UH's recruiting coordinator, the Cougars brought in a 2011 class that was widely regarded as one of then nation's best. The group was ranked as the 22nd strongest class by Collegiate Girls Basketball Report and No. 39 nationally by ESPN HoopGurlz.
In Justice's first year with the program in 2010-11, the Cougars enjoyed one of their finest seasons in program history, posting a 26-6 overall record and returned to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the 2004-05 season.
Under the tutelage of Justice, junior point guard Porsche Landry developed into one of the best players in program history, as she eventually became the school's all-time assists (483) and career starts (121) leader. Her 1,578 career points rank seventh on UH's all-time scoring list.
Landry also notched two All-Conference USA sections during under Justice's guidance.